TAX TIP No. 54
Deadline looms for mandatory IRA withdrawals
Most account holders use table three, known as the uniform lifetime
table. It is for singles and
married savers with spouses
closer to their own ages.
The IRS has revised calculations
in this table to reflect today's
longer life spans. Under the
new distribution guidelines,
an individual with sufficient
income from other sources
can withdraw less from a retirement
account, letting it grow for
a while longer.
The IRS does allow a few instances in which you don't
have to touch your retirement money just yet.
First, if all
your retirement savings are in a Roth IRA, you're exempt from this rule. Earnings
in Roth accounts are tax-free, and you can leave your money in there as long as
Second, if you are still working, you can wait until
you actually retire before you collect from your company pension or 401(k). But
if you have other, nonwork-related accounts, such as an IRA other than a Roth,
you've got to start taking money from them now.
Third, if you've
already withdrawn the minimum required amount, either last year when you actually
celebrated your 70½ birthday or earlier this year, you don't have
to worry about the April 1 deadline. And you don't have to take another RMD for the 2009 tax year.
Even if you've been
tapping retirement accounts before you became a septuagenarian, now you must keep
a close eye on exactly how much you take out. All subsequent withdrawals must
meet the IRS mandatory amounts.
Other withdrawal rules
You can always take out more than the required amount.
But that won't affect distributions in future years. Say, for example, your required
withdrawal this year is $1,500 but you take out $2,000. You can't carry that $500
over to count against the next required distribution. But, because you've reduced
your IRA balance, your subsequent minimum distributions will be lowered.
you have multiple retirement accounts? Then you must figure the minimum withdrawal
amount for each, but you don't necessarily have to raid them all. You can add
the separate amounts and take the total from just one.
you made any nondeductible contributions to your traditional IRA, make sure you
have the paperwork to back that up. This is part of the reason that you need to
file Form 8606, which tracks these amounts and establishes your cost basis in
your account. Your nondeductible contributions are not taxed when you withdraw
them. Rather, they are a return of your investment (i.e., your cost basis) in
The IRS will let you take your required distribution
in installments. Just make sure that these disbursements, be they monthly, quarterly
or some other increment, total at least the yearly minimum amount you're obligated
Spending not required
While the IRS says you must take a specified amount
of money out of your traditional IRA or other similar retirement plan, that doesn't
mean you have to spend it.
The agency is interested only in
collecting some of the deferred taxes on your account. That goal is accomplished
as soon as you take the distribution.
If you don't need that money, or as much as you had to take out,
to meet your living expenses, you can redeposit any or all of the distribution
in another nonretirement savings account where it will keep earning interest for
you. That's OK by the IRS, since it will get its share of these taxable earnings,
pages can help you find the
best rates on certificates
of deposit or money
market accounts that might
be good places to stash any
required IRA distributions
you don't want to spend right
|-- Updated: March